Smithsonian exhibit traces story of America’s journey
by Lisa J. Church
Staff Writer
May 22, 2014 | 2494 views | 0 0 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Vernon Evans stands next to his family’s car during a stop along their journey from South Dakota in July 1936. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress
Vernon Evans stands next to his family’s car during a stop along their journey from South Dakota in July 1936. Photo courtesy of the Library of Congress
The history of the United States and its people is a tale of travel – from immigrants who first sailed oceans to arrive on American shores, to pioneers who crossed through uncharted lands to make new lives. A new traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian Institution – “Journey Stories” - explores how transportation and migration helped build the country, how it has changed Americans, and how the world looked to travelers along the way.

The first stop in the exhibit’s year-long trek through Utah begins at the Museum of Moab, 118 E. Center St., on Saturday, May 24 through a collaboration between the Utah Humanities Council and the Smithsonian’s Museum on Main Street program. “Journey Stories” will open in Moab at 10:30 a.m. with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and several speakers. The exhibit, which will remain in Moab through July 11, is free and open to the public.

On Friday, May 23 at 6 p.m., the museum will present a special program related to the new exhibit. Mark Steen, son of “Uranium King” Charlie Steen, will discuss his family’s adventures traveling to Moab in the early days of the uranium boom in the 1950s.

“Journey Stories” will also travel to four other sites in Utah – Vernal, West Valley City, Ephraim, and Brigham City – through March 2015.

John Foster, executive director of the Museum of Moab, said the “Journey Stories” exhibition as an excellent way to highlight the stories and history of Moab’s own residents.

“The recreational aspect of Moab for both local residents and tourists is such a large, successful part of its current history and renown,” Foster said. “’Journey Stories,’ along with the local programming the museum is planning, will allow us to give an even broader context for Moab’s evolution as a community, which will only deepen its beloved place in people’s hearts. It gives everyone here, residents and tourists alike, the opportunity to tell their own journey stories and participate in a community event.”

It also will help people better connect to the past, he said.

“It will help us understand what we have here now, and why the past really matters today,” Foster said.

At each stop in Utah, the hosting site will develop a local companion exhibit and related activities to complement the national exhibition – family activities, workshops, lectures, personal stories and oral histories, and conversations about the concept of mobility and how it impacts our lives, said Megan van Frank, history and museums program officer at the Utah Humanities Council.

She hopes visitors to the exhibit will “enjoy learning about American history from the viewpoint of mobility, and come away with a sense of what it was like – and is like – to be mobile, whether that’s voluntarily or involuntarily.”

“The concept of mobility is broader than simply getting from point A to point B – it often speaks to life-changing decisions that affect generations and transform communities,” van Frank said in a news release. “The exhibition is an unparalleled opportunity for Utahns to tell their own journey stories and participate in a nationwide conversation about mobility in America.”

The exhibit includes a wide range of photographs and other visual images, audio clips, music, maps and artifacts, according to information on the exhibit’s website.

For more information about the “Journey Stories” exhibit in Moab, contact the Museum of Moab at 435-259-7985 or visit:

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